THE DAY OF THE GOATS
THE ANIMALS AT HAUTE GOAT FARM
One of the great things about spring-time in the country is the increased likelihood that one will come across an opportunity to cuddle baby farm animals. Sometimes this takes place if you happen to know the right people, like farmers. Except I don’t. And sometimes these opportunities arise by trolling the internet and seeking them out. It was by this second method that we found ourselves on a sunny Saturday, cuddling a week-old baby goat at Haute Goat, a beautiful goat farm north west of Port Hope, Ontario.
Haute Goat is a gorgeous 200 acre farm owned by Debbie and Shain in Newtonville, Ontario. They raise chickens, ducks, horses, alpacas and Nigerian Dwarf goats on the property, in addition to having 3 large friendly dogs and a number of barn cats. They also have a Shitake forest, offer guided farm tours, workshops, and have a great shop on site selling a variety of handmade, small batch Goat milk products including facial creams and soaps, and Goat Butter Caramel Corn and Decadent Goat Buttercrunch.
On the day Sara and I went to Haute Goat, we pulled up in the driveway and parked beside five or 6 other cars. As we stepped out of our vehicles, we were welcomed by Shain, who introduced himself, and gave a brief introduction of the property. He directed us to the chickens, alpacas, horses and the goats. Then he handed us a map to the property and encouraged us to walk the paths and trails at our leisure, which we did. First stop: the chickens and ducks. In a large enclosure, they were busy doing chicken and duck things. Then we saw the alpacas, also in their own enclosure. Very large and fuzzy, they too were doing alpaca things, and did not seem particularly interested in visitors. So soon we were walking through the fields, enjoying the sunshine, fresh air, and incredible views out over the Northumberland Hills.
The Haute Goat property is riddled with signs and plaques along numerous trails, providing visitors with lots of information about the things they may see at the farm – about the alpacas, honey bees, horses, and of course, the Nigerian Dwarf goats.
After wandering the property and meeting the horses, who were only slightly more interested in us than the alpacas had been, we arrived at the goat barn. While not allowed into any of the barn structures, we were happy to find that most of the goats, including a handful of kids (baby goats), were outside in the barn yard soaking up the sun, and eating. And the goats were as interested in us as we were in them!
Through the tall fence enclosing the goat barn yard, we were able to pat the goats, feed them clumps of grass, and watch the very young ones playing. Kids often seem to have springs in their legs, and these ones were no different. And if you haven’t seen it before, there is nothing better than watching kids bouncing around, often sideways like on a pogo stick. You cannot help but laugh. A group of us had gathered by this point, and we just stood there watching the goat antics taking place on the other side of the fence. It is better than TV any day of the week!
Shortly thereafter, Debbie, the other owner of Haute Goat, came out to the barnyard to answer questions and introduce us to the newest member of their goat family, Dallas, an adorable black and white Nigerian Dwarf goat, who was only a week old. As she passed him over the fence into the arms of one of the visitors, a collective “Awww” rose up from the group. And so it went as sweet Dallas was passed and cuddled and passed and cuddled from person to person. He was tiny, only about ten pounds, and very well behaved. He dutifully and patiently remained in each visitor’s arms and posed for multiple photo ops before eventually being passed back into the enclosure to return to his mother.
We must have stayed with the goats for at least half an hour, before eventually making our way to the main house to see the goodies in the Haute Goat Shop. (In the summer the shop is in a farm stand by the alpacas). Shain again graciously welcomed us into his home, and offered us some homemade lemonade and goats milk fudge as we looked at the shop offerings. Not only do they have a wonderful selection of goat’s milk products, they also carry alpaca wool products including socks, sweaters and dryer balls, and honey from their own apiary. I ended up buying a delicious smelling lavender and mint goat’s milk bar of soap, and a jar of buckwheat honey.
Haute Goat is free to visit and is open to the public from 10am-4pm daily. On Saturdays they have guided tours. Debbie and Shain also offer a wonderful series of workshops at the farm, teaching subjects like ‘Introduction to Goats’, ‘How to Create an Apothecary Garden’ and ‘Introduction to Beekeeping’. The full list of workshops are available on their website.
While we cannot guarantee you will have the opportunity to cuddle a baby goat when you visit Haute Goat (they may be off doing goat things and not wanting cuddles that day), the chances are pretty good if you visit in spring. We had a great time when we visited, and we learned all sorts of interesting things about the farm and the animals who live on it. We will certainly be going back to check it out again.
Haute Goat is having an open house on Saturday May 13th, 2017 from 11am -3pm, and they will have all sorts of special events taking place including alpaca shearing, goat races, hay rides and goat yoga.
A few suggestions for your visit:
• Bring wet naps or hand sanitizer. You will want to wash up after petting all the animals!
• Dress for the weather as this excursion is outside.
•Wear rubber boots as sometimes the farm can be muddy.
•Please do not bring any human food to feed the animals. It may make them ill. But you are welcome to feed them clumps of grass.